Malaysia among the World’s Worst Places for Refugees
June 18, 2009 – Washington DC: Malaysia along with its neighbor Thailand is among the world’s worst places for refugees, according to the World Refugee Survey 2009 released here Wednesday by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).
The report picked up ten countries including Brazil, South Africa, Gaza, Ecuador, Thailand, Kenya, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey and Costa Rica as places where refugees are often the subjects of serious violent and mistreatment.
According to this latest survey, the Malaysia immigration officials continued to sell deportees to gangs that operate along the Malaysia-Thailand border. The gang members extort bribes from the deportees in exchange for smuggling them back into Malaysia and sell those who cannot pay into slavery.
Men frequently end up on Thai fishing boats, women in brothels, and children with gangs who exploit child beggars.
Many of these victims are believed to be Chin refugees from Burma. About 30,000 Chin refugees are waiting for registration with the office of UNHCR under its mandate, according to sources from Chin communities in Malaysia.
“The actual figure of Myanmar refugees that is mainly made up by Chin refugees might be much higher than what the survey disclosed. Of course there is no accuracy information available this time. But we estimate they are well above 100,000”, commented Salai Elaisa Vahnie who attended the USCRI event at the Embassy of Canada in Washington DC.
But the report put the total number of Myanmar refugees and asylum seekers in India at 100,000; Malaysia at only 79,000.
It is believed that Myanmar refugee population in India also is higher than the survey figure. Chin refugees alone are over a hundred thousand according to the Chin Human Right Organization (CHRO).
When asked what could be a solution for the Chin refugees, he continued “This survey surely is descriptive as well as evaluative, but very informative. Now, it is up to the international community to do what it should do, especially on Burma. A comprehensive approach is needed for Burmese and Chin refugees.
Strengthening humanitarian space in asylum countries e.g. in Malaysia for those already in need of international protection and at the same time providing more assistance for the democratization works inside Burma with the emphasis on building the foundations for a transition to a democratic society, would address root causes of the exodus of refugees from ethnic minority areas.”
The Chin people continue to leave their homeland to escape the systematic persecution and suppression by the repressive military regime in Burma. The continuing Burmese military regime’s serious human rights violations such as forced porter, forced labor, arbitrary arrest, torture, and child soldiers and forcibly recruitment to the Burmese military are basic reasons of the exodus of Chin refugees.
The annual survey, which was issued in advance of World Refugee Day June 20, claims that the number of refugees had dropped to 13.6 million from last year’s statistics at 14 million.